Wednesday, July 26, 2006


The Whole Story

Intelligent design activists William Harris, Angus Menuge, and John Calvert are barnstorming Kansas right now to drum up votes for the creationists on the state school board who voted to redefine science in Kansas.

"The scientists and educators who crafted the changes were eight members of a state board appointed science writing committee, three of which hold doctoral degrees in the life sciences" Harris told The Emporia Gazzette (no link available). "Our work was extensively vetted by the public and scientists on both sides of the issue."

Like so much else that intelligent design activists like Harris have to say, this statement doesn't exactly tell the whole story.

The eight hand-picked intelligent design activists who were appointed to the writing committee by right-wing board members -- being neither scientists or educators -- stuck out like a sore thumb on the 23-member committee. They were a distinct minority.

In the end, an unqualified board rejected the recommendations of the majority of the writing committee in order to implement its plan to weaken the standards.

Harris is right when he says their work has been extensively vetted by the public and scientists. Members of the public who want to teach the Bible in science classes love it. Scientists -- real scientists -- see the new standards as a joke.

In fact, the peer reviews of the science standards were so embarrassing that the KSDE website has now removed them from their website.

Fortunately, Red State Rabble made copies. Here are some of the comments:

Peer reviewer Karen E. Bartelt, Ph.D., a Professor of Chemistry at Eureka College tells ID proponents that they need to roll up their sleeves and do some real work:

"No one is suggesting that the Proponents not go out and test their hypotheses. In fact, this has been recommended numerous times. When this has been done and there is actually some evidential support, then it is time to have the discussion about whether or where to include it."
Peer reviewer Scott Brande, Ph.D. , Associate Professor of Natural Science & Mathematics at the University of Alabama-Birmingham debunks the notion that because evolution looks at the past, it isn't science:

"(The Intelligent Design Network proposal) suggests that a distinction be made between scientific investigations of contemporary phenomena and that of historical phenomena. As a paleontologist, I investigate the past, but not by criteria different from that needed to explore the present. The primary criterion for assessing the strength of hypotheses is the conformity of the hypothesis with the evidence, regardless of whether the evidence is 10 minutes or 10 million years old. "
The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Teachers Association wrote:

With misinformation about evolution and the nature of science at issue in proposed Kansas science education standards, AAAS strongly supports two national science organizations that announced today they are unable to allow use of their copyrighted material in the standards.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute's "The State of State Science Standards" gave Kansas an "F" because:

Kansas has adopted standards whose treatment of evolutionary material has been radically compromised. The effect transcends evolution, however. It now makes a mockery of the very definition of science. The grade for Kansas is accordingly reduced to "F."


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